The Other Side: San Diego State

San Diego State won nine games a season ago but lost its opener by a 40-19 score to Eastern Illinois. So which team will the Buckeyes see on Saturday? We try to find out in this week's edition of The Other Side with Stefanie Loh of the San Diego Union-Tribune

Ohio State hosts San Diego State at 3:30 p.m. in Ohio Stadium in game two of the season. To find out more about the Aztecs, we asked Stefanie Loh of the San Diego Union-Tribune. You can check out her work on the UT website or on Twitter @StefanieLoh.

1. Obviously, SDSU's opener didn't go the way it was expected to with the Aztecs' loss to Eastern Illinois. Was it merely just a bad day for the Aztecs or signs that there might be deeper problems with this year's team?
Loh: I think it's a bit of both. The Aztecs clearly played poorly and were out of sync on offense and defense. They've admitted that they might have overlooked EIU to some extent. Still, even though they have a myriad of problems to fix leading up to this weekend's game, I think it's premature to say that the first game is indicative of how they'll play all season. They definitely have some questions to answer on the offensive line and at the cornerback position, but it was uncharacteristic of that defense to play so poorly, and I expect that they will rebound against Ohio State to some extent.

2. Adam Dingwell's stats don't jump off the page, but can he rebound from his opening game performance? What does he bring to the table as a QB?
Loh: Adam Dingwell's biggest selling point is the fact that he came off the bench to lead the Aztecs to the Mountain West title in 2012. He's bought himself some latitude, and I think that's why the coaches are sticking with him for now even though he's had a rough couple of games. He has decent arm strength and actually better mobility than he's given credit for. He also plays with a fearless, tough guy mentality -- Texas tough, if you may -- that can be fun to watch when he's in sync. But he has to start making better decisions and minimizing the fumbles and interceptions. He's adequate as a game manager, but needs to prove that he can do more and operate Bob Toledo's West Coast offense.

3. The Adam Muema injury bears watching. What is the likelihood of him playing, and if not, what does the San Diego State running attack look like without him?
Loh: Adam Muema suffered a low ankle sprain against Eastern Illinois and missed the entire second half. But he was back to practice Wednesday and all indications point to the fact that he'll be ready to go against Ohio State this Saturday. In the event that he can't go, the Aztecs are currently going with a running-back-by-committee type situation with sophomores Chase Price and Dwayne Garrett, and true freshman D.J. Pumphrey, who has shown some jitterbug speed since he arrived at camp.

4. San Diego State seems to run a unique defense with positions like "Aztec" and "Warrior." What style of defense is it and what does the team like to do out of it?
Loh: The Aztecs run an aggressive 3-3-5 defense that's a signature of Rocky Long's. Long, the head coach, also calls the plays, and he likes to blitz from everywhere, and play man coverage in the secondary. However, it's worth nothing that SDSU's cornerbacks (J.J. Whittaker and King Holder) are a little inexperienced and the coaching staff is still trying to figure out if they can hold up in man coverage, or if the Aztecs will have to adopt more zone coverage principles to help the green cornerbacks along.

5. Lastly, there are a number of returning veterans on the defensive side of the ball. What do some of those experienced players bring to the table?
Loh: The Aztecs return nine starters on defense, and are especially deep at linebacker. They arguably have the best linebacking corps in the Mountain West. Problem is starting outside linebacker Derek Largent is out with an injury and will not play against Ohio State. Still, his backup is Vaness Harris, who started at the OLB spot for the first half of last season before he was beat out by Largent. The Aztecs' defense has played together for a while now and is a cohesive group that has demonstrated that they can be effective as unit. They came along very well toward the end of 2012 when the defensive line improved its pass-rushing skills. DE Cody Galea is quick off the edge, MLB Jake Fely is a cerebral player with a high motor, and Nat Berhe, the "Aztec" safety has a knack for finding the ball.

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